Category Archives: January 2012

Mint Mark Locations

Special markings have been used on United States coins since 1838 to indicate where they were manufactured. Over the years eight different mints have been used to make the coins for this nation. Each of them has been assigned a different letter for identification, and all coins made at each facility include that mint mark to show their origin.

Mint marks in the form of letters or symbols are an ancient feature that can be traced back to Greek and Roman minters who took pride in their work and wanted to be distinguished from others who were perhaps less skilled. Many kings and emperors of that time also insisted on the use of mint marks to be able to identify the origin of any coins that did not comply with standard weight and fineness. Without constant supervision it would be easy for a minter to make lightweight coins and pocket the extra metal.

New Orleans Mint Mark Collection

New Orleans Mint Mark Collection

Over the years most countries have continued the custom of including mint marks of one kind or another to identify the place of origin for their coins. It was only logical that when first branch mints in America opened in 1838, mint marks were used to distinguish those coins from other similar pieces being made in Philadelphia. In that year new manufacturing facilities were opened in Charlotte, North Carolina; Dahlonega, Georgia and New Orleans, Louisiana. The mint letters designated for them were “C”,“D”, and “O” respectively.

Susan B. Anthony Mint Mark Coins

Susan B. Anthony Mint Mark Coins

For many years the original Philadelphia Mint did not use a mint mark for identification. That custom changed in 1979 when the letter “P” was used on the dollar coin. Thereafter, the mark was included on all Philadelphia-made coins except the one-cent piece. Prior to that it had been used only on the wartime nickels made of silver from 1942-1945. It is usually easy to spot mint marks on United States coins. They are always in the form of tiny letters that seemingly should not be part of the basic design. Prior to 1965 nearly all mint marks were placed on the reverse of the coins. There are exceptions, but very few, and those coins are easy to spot. The rest of the early coins have a mint mark on the reverse usually right below the eagle.

From 1965 to the present mint marks have been placed on the front of every coin usually near the date. On the cent it is right below the date. Nickels show it between the date and Jefferson’s ponytail. You will not have to look hard to find the mint mark on the dime; it is directly above the date. Quarters show the mark to the right of the ribbon in Washington’s hair, the half-dollar has it above the date, very near the point of Kennedy’s neck. Both the Eisenhower and Susan B. Anthony dollars have mint marks near the neck and the Sacagawea dollar carries the mark below the date.

Searching for mint marks can be fun, and it is necessary to know where they are all located to properly identify each coin. The coins in circulation today are all made in one of three currently operating mints. Philadelphia (P), Denver (D), and San Francisco (S). The mint in West Point, New York occasionally makes a few non-circulating coins and uses their (W) mark for identification.

Posted in January 2012 | Leave a comment

Set of 5 Liberty Head Nickels

Gold Plated Racketeer Nickel

Gold Plated Racketeer Nickel

Minted from 1883 to 1912, the Liberty Head nickel was America’s 5-cent piece before the Buffalo Nickel came into use. The father of the Liberty nickel was A. Louden Snowden, Superintendent of the Philadelphia Mint. He instructed master engraver Charles E. Barber to design the new 5-cent piece, which Barber accomplished in a spare and simple style. The elegant design of this coin features Liberty’s head on the obverse and the Roman numeral V within a wreath on the reverse.

In 1882, the Mint endorsed Barber’s design, and samples were sent to Washington for approval by. To Snowden’s surprise, Treasury Secretary Charles Folger rejected the design. The secretary realized that the laws required “United States of America” to appear on the reverse of the coin, not the obverse. Folger had then consulted with President Chester Arthur, who agreed with Folger. Snowden then suggested that an exception should be made, but the secretary refused, and Barber needed to modify his design. The revised design was approved in 1883, and the coin was ready for struck.

We are offering a set of 5 mixed date Liberty Head nickels. The set is guaranteed to include the most famous Liberty nickel of all, the 1883 “Racketeer” Nickel. This coin was originally minted with the Roman numeral “V” on the reverse but without the word “cents”. This inspired con artists to plate the nickel in gold and try to pass it off as a more valuable $5 gold piece. Just 5 million of these coins were produced before the Mint realized its mistake. The rest of the 1883 nickels minted that year (16 million) all had the word “cents” added on. Each coin in this collection is in Good to Very Good condition and is encapsulated in clear plastic for protection. A free display case is included with each coin.

Posted in January 2012 | 4 Comments

James A. Garfield- Our 20th President

James Garfield Presidential One Dollar Coin

The latest release in the Presidential $1 Coin series honors our 20th President. Elected in 1880, James Garfield was the last elected President to be born in a log cabin.

Garfield was born in Ohio, worked hard to educate himself and graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts. He returned to Ohio to teach at Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (Hiram College) and became its president.

Elected to the state Senate in 1859 from the Republican Party, he also served in the Union Army rising to the rank of Major General. He was first elected to the U.S. Congress in 1863 and served there after President Lincoln asked him to resign his position on the battlefield. Garfield served nine consecutive terms in the House of Representatives.

In 1880 Garfield won the presidential election against his Democratic rival, Gen. Winfield Scott, by only 10,000 popular votes. In his inaugural address he called for rights for African-Americans, universal education and civil reforms. Garfield’s short presidency was also noted for attacking political corruption. He also brought back honor to the office lost during Reconstruction. His only executive order was to have a holiday on May 30 in order to decorate Civil War graves.

Garfield was an avid reader who owned a substantial library of over three thousand books. He also showed substantial math talent in developing a trapezoidal proof of Pythagoras’ Theory. That work was mentioned in the New England Journal of Education.

His tenure as president lasted only 200 days, the second shortest on record (William Harrison). James Garfield and his wife Lucretia had seven children.

Posted in January 2012 | 1 Comment

Philippines

Philippines 1903 Eagle CoinCoins were issued for the Philippines under sovereignty of the United States from 1903 through 1945. These coins are all inscribed with the legend United States of America and show an eagle above the shield on the reverse. Pieces dated from 1903 to 1919 were struck at the Philadelphia and San Francisco mints. Those dated after 1920 were made in Manila. During World War II coins of 1944 and 1945 were made at Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco.

Posted in January 2012 | Leave a comment

Fascinating Coin Fact

$2.50 gold quarter eaglesThe Executive Order of 1933 banned gold ownership except for $100 in face value that could be held in a collection. The government announced on December 28 that collectors could keep all numismatic gold except quarter eagles, but collectors protested so loudly that the order was rescinded on January 12, 1934. The $2.50 gold thus was illegal to own for a period of 16 days. No explanation was ever given as to why the quarter eagle was singled out for special treatment.

Posted in January 2012 | Leave a comment